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Tips to help your parents transition to a nursing home

As our parents get older and can longer care for themselves, the responsibility to provide care and support often falls on adult children. For some families, this means taking the parent in to live with them. For others, however, it means helping them make the transition into a nursing home facility.

This transition can be difficult emotionally, physically, socially, and financially. Thankfully, there are ways you can help your parents through each of these changes. 

The emotional transition

As this article discusses, moving into a care facility can be very upsetting. Patients can feel a loss of independence as well as isolated and scared. To help a parent through these difficult emotions, talk to them. Ask how he or she is feeling and lend a supportive ear. If possible, consider connecting your parent with a trained counselor or therapist.

You can also commit to visiting regularly and ensure your parent can contact you by email or phone whenever they need to.

The physical transition

Moving is stressful under most circumstances; moving into a care facility can be especially difficult. You can help your parent by assisting with packing and moving their belongings. You can also help with selling or storing items they are not bringing with them.

On the other end, you can be with your parent to set up the new space. Having seasonal decor, photographs, familiar clothing, and other items can help your parent feel more comfortable in a new space.

The social transition

Many care facilities have social opportunities for residents. This might be a bridge club, exercise sessions or special events. Encouraging your parents to get involved in these can be important in helping them adjust to their new living situation.

If the facility does not have adequate services to keep residents connected and engaged, you might organize such opportunities for your parent yourself. Social interactions with others can be crucial in improving a person's well-being.

The financial transition

Nursing home facilities can be quite expensive and figuring out how to pay for care and what type of facility your parent will live in ahead of time can be crucial. Discuss with your parent, and a qualified elder law attorney, what - if any - steps he or she has taken regarding financial planning and asset preservation.

It might also be wise to discuss with your parent additional financial protections such as powers of attorney or conservatorship.

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